Bryansford U-21’s Battle Through To Ulster Gaelic Final
U-21 Ulster Gaelic Semi Finals
Bryansford 0-16 2-7 Emerald Sarsfield
Match report by Peter McGrath Jnr
Ulster Semi-finals are occasions that only a handful of players ever get the chance to play in. Bryansford U-21’s earned their place with a victory over Cavan Gaels in the quarter final, while Monaghan champions, Emerald Sarsfields, an amalgamation of Blackhall Emeralds and Oram Kickhams, had comprehensively dispensed of St Johns of Antrim at the same stage. The prize for victory – a place in the final of the Creggan tournament 2013.
The two teams served up an entertaining hour of football. It was nip and tuck early on with Danny Savage and Ryan McGuinness trading early points and the tit-for-tat nature of the early exchanges continued as Ciaran Courtney pointed to cancel out a second effort from Savage.
With seven minutes gone, Bryansford corner forward Adam Magorrian was unfortunate to see his palmed effort rebound off the bar but a brace of frees from David McKibben helped eased the Down lads into a 0-4 – 0-2 lead with eleven minutes played. Emerald Sarsfields to their credit though worked hard for a way back into the game and a somewhat fortuitous goal gave them the perfect platform to build from as Ciaran Courtney found a rebounded shot right at his feet inside the six yard box and had the simplest of tasks prodding it to the net.
The ever dangerous Pauric Graham added a further point to open a two point gap. Bryansford offered a quick reply through a third point from David McKibben and had a goal opportunity of their own as Danny Savage cut in from the left and forced Berat Turker in the Emerald goal to tip the ball round the post, although there may have been a ball on across the square to set up an even better chance. Savage did nevertheless atone as he pointed the resulting 45 and a subsequent 14 yard free but a snapshot point from Phillip Donnelly a minute and a half into first half stoppage time left it level at the break.
During the interval, the strong crossfield breeze blowing in off the shores of Lough Neagh left many in the crowd shivering but not the Monaghan team. They came out in the second half all guns blazing with Michael Geehan registering a brace and another couple of opportunities for points that were sent wide.
The introduction of Chris Clarke sparked a Bryansford run of nine consecutive points. The first was a second goal chance for Danny Savage. His driven effort was destined for the top corner but Berat Turker somehow flung himself at the ball and tipped it over. Savage could be criticised in so far as that he could have kept his shot low but this was one of those moments in which you just had to marvel at the brilliance of Turker.
David McKibben and Savage each pointed a free before Marc Harbinson ran onto an excellent Tomas McInerney pass and kicked a lovely point, Bryansford’s 11th and the first from someone other than McKibben or Savage. A brilliant point from the shining star that was Savage radiated above many of the rest as he rose dramatically to pull a high ball from the sky.
Upon returning to earth he turned onto his left foot and without even a goalward glance split the posts with an incredible point. He followed up with another, this a third goal chance. His first effort had thundered off the post but he eventually regained possession and tapped it over. Man of the Match Savage pointed for a ninth time with a fourth free before two quickfire points from Chris Clarke wrapped up the Bryansford scoring.
With a seven point lead Bryansford seemed to be coasting to victory but a high ball into the square crossed the line and amid a reign of confusion a goal was awarded. After a small skirmish in which David McKibben picked up a second yellow, Pauric Graham pointed to set up a grandstand finale but Bryansford held on to record an historic win that sets up an Ulster final meeting with Ballinderry.